Technology makes it easier than ever for employers to make sure their operations are running at peak efficiency. Laptops and professional tablets make it easier for employees to telecommute and work from home, complex software allows the company to manage inventory and dispatch employees in real time, and work smart phones enable employees to be reached wherever they are. With this investment in technology and access to abundant information, also comes a new risk of privacy abuse that wasn’t on anyone’s minds even a decade ago.
One of these potential abuses involves employee tracking. In other words, can an employer track your whereabouts?
First, it is important to understand that employee tracking isn’t implicitly evil. There are actually legitimate reasons for an employer to want this information:
- A company has a legitimate business interest in paying accurate wages. For jobs where an employee is on the road and it simply isn’t feasible to punch the clock, tracking an employee’s whereabouts during work hours can provide accurate time so that an employee can comply with wage and overtime laws.
- A company has a right to limit its legal liability and ensure that its vehicles are where they are supposed to be and that employees who are driving do not speed or drive recklessly. You know those “How Am I Driving?” bumper stickers you see on work trucks? Companies are legitimately interested in the answer to this question.
- Many employers who provide services have an interest in peak efficiency and using cutting edge software to make sure that employees are dispatched in a smart and timely manner.
With that in mind, if your employer has installed tracking software in a phone and/or vehicle that you use, then there are delicate privacy interests in play. Unfortunately, state legislation has not caught up with technology when it comes to location monitoring; however, never forget that Article 1 of our State’s Constitution says that:
“All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.”
Keeping in line with other areas of employee rights laws, it is reasonable to assume that employers are violating your privacy rights when they track your location when you are off duty, or outside of working hours. There is no justifiable business interest for your employer to go “Big Brother” on your own time. Further, you should speak with an attorney if your employer is requiring you to install GPS in your personal phone or personal vehicle, or if they have secretly installed the software on your personal property. It is unlawful to install a GPS device on a vehicle without the owner’s consent.
On the other hand, if your employer has installed the tracking software on a company phone or in a company vehicle, then your employer may be protected from liability.
Protect Your Legal Rights
You have a right to privacy, and if your employer is tracking you on your own time, or is using your property to track you without your consent, call me. Moss Bollinger is an employee’ rights law firm that provides tough, intelligent legal guidance and representation. We understand the law and know how to hold employers accountable for legal violations. If you contact my office, we can help you determine whether you have a claim. We work on a contingency basis. Call Moss Bollinger at (866) 535-2994 for a free consultation or contact us online.